It’s a dis-service to the over $1 trillion dollars of African American buying power that the black community possess. Black designers face a lack of promotion that keeps them from reaching the audience waiting to see what designs to buy next.
Dr. Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, believes the problem lies in lack of funding for black designers.
“Well, fashion week is a multi-million dollar proposition,” she said to theGrio. “[E]ven for a designer to put on a small show can cost a hundred thousand dollars. So you have an enormous investment on the part of designers.”
B Michael of B Michael America was the only African American designer to showcase his work at a major presentation during the week. He believes that there just aren’t a lot of black designers in the fashion industry.
“I think that really has more to do with the fact that there are so few designers of color really in the business in this country,” he said. “And so, you just see that percentage as it relates to Fashion Week.”
Fashion Week wasn’t only short of African American designers. The week also lacked color in the faces walking down the runway.
“If you don’t have a lot of African-American models, I think that kind of translates into the designers,” Deena Campbell, associate editor of Uptown magazine said to theGrio. Campbell has been attending fashion week shows for years, and in her time she says she’s only seen about 10 or 15 black models at big shows, possibly even less than that.
Although African Americans may not have been seen strutting down the runway or crafting designs, Fashion Week wasn’t short of African American influence. Behind the scenes African Americans made up many of the leading and trendsetting stylists, makeup artists and show coordinators. While it may be a disappointment this year, perhaps the criticism will inspire African Americans to find a way to land among the front-of-the house and top rank fashion movers and shakers next year.